Fight Night 20: Nate Diaz vs. Gray Maynard Prediction

155 lbs: Nate Diaz vs. Gray Maynard

Odds: (+250 Diaz / -325 Maynard)

The main event is a compelling lightweight rematch between Jiu-Jitsu expert Nathan Diaz and Gray Maynard, arguably the division’s most dominant wrestler.  The two first met on The Ultimate Fighter Season 5, where Diaz finished Maynard with a second round guillotine choke.  Since then, though, Maynard has cemented himself as a legitimate contender, and a win here might well land him a shot at the title.  Diaz, whose results have been mixed lately, could easily propel himself back near the top of the division with another win over Maynard, so this has all the makings of a competitive fight.

Gray Maynard’s bread and butter is definitely his wrestling.  Thus far in his career, his takedowns have looked pretty much unstoppable and his top control is completely stifling.  In more than one of his fights, he has won with pretty much pure wrestling, because even when opponents know the takedown is coming, they still can’t stop them.  As he has grown as a fighter, though, Maynard’s standup has come a long way, and he has shown that he has both knockout power and the ability to put together solid combos to both the body and the head.  The most important thing for Maynard in this fight, though, will be his takedown defense.  Diaz submitted him in their last meeting, so it is imperative that he stays cautious if the fight goes to the ground to avoid a repeat performance.

Nate Diaz is one of the most proficient submission grapplers in the Lightweight division.  He has shown a remarkable ability to finish opponents with submissions and also to sweep and control opponents on the ground.  He also brings a very unorthodox but effective boxing game which, despite his lack of knockout power, can give opponents a lot of trouble with the awkward angles and rapid pace the punches come at.  While he will enter this fight with a lot of confidence because of his previous victory over Maynard, he needs to be very wary about Maynard’s takedowns.  Against Joe Stevenson, Diaz was completely overwhelmed by Stevenson’s takedowns and top control, and could not get his submission attack going.  Maynard’s wrestling is at least as dominant as Stevenson’s, if not more so, so Diaz is really going to need a good game plan if he wants to keep Maynard from doing the same thing.

Stylistically, I give the advantage in this fight to Maynard.  On the feet, Diaz is probably the more technical boxer, but Maynard has more power plus the added bonus of a scary takedown game that is going to keep Diaz wary.  On the ground, Diaz is a much stronger threat to finish, but as long as Maynard can keep out of any submission attempts and stay active enough to throw Diaz off his game, he can easily control the fight.  Most importantly, though, Maynard’s superior wrestling means that he is the one who can dictate where the fight goes. 

Ultimately, I think the fact that whether the fight stays standing or goes to the ground is in Maynard’s hands is going to be the deciding factor here.  Expect Maynard to keep it standing for a lot of this fight, only using takedowns to score points and avoid trouble on his way to a unanimous decision.

Fight Prediction: “The Bully” Gray Maynard via unanimous decision.

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